2016 / 17


English for I.R. 2

Grau en Relacions Internacionals
Grau en Relacions Internacionals


English for IR, level I, or be placed directly in level II by having demonstrated consolidated level of B2.2 in the Common European Framework on the entrance exam.


      This program assumes that beginning students have reached a level which is superior to Cambridge First Certificate and are therefore familiar with advanced English grammar structures and vocabulary. Student will have to take an entrance exam (Oxford Placement Test) and they will need to reach a score corresponding to B2 in order for them to be admitted into the program.




      Professors of this course:  Catherine Otey and Klaus Zilles

      English for International Relations has been designed according to the needs perceived by both language teachers and experts in International Relations. The program follows the principles advanced by the Section of Modern Languages of the Council of Europe. The three levels have been created from a communicative perspective and are taught by means of a balanced mixture of task-based, text-based, and CLIL (content and language integrated learning) approaches. In each course students have to carry out a series of tasks related to different topics within the three main areas of International Relations: international politics, world economy, and communication. In those tasks, students will use English, both receptively and productively, to accomplish the objectives set for each task. As far as materials are concerned, reading and listening exercises have been designed with authentic material and, therefore, the level of difficulty is similar for all levels, although the language expectations are different.

English for International Relations is closely linked to the International Relations Seminar in that they both consist of small groups of students.

This course belongs to Module 1: Linguistic expression, and is part of the block of basic credits that the School has established in accordance with state legislation.  The 3 levels constitute a block which has 12 ECTS credits assigned.


These competences are the academic objectives of English for International Relations II and, therefore, establish the evaluation requirements of the course (see Criteria for Evaluation of Results).

 1.    Knowledge and correct oral English.

1.1    To develop fluency, complexity, clarity, and coherence in oral expression related to International Relations issues.

1.2.   To make students competent speakers of English in professional, academic, and informal situations, and improve their oral production and interaction skills.

1.3    To formulate questions, develop arguments, support with evidence and data, and present issues and problems related to International Relations.

2.  Basic ability to understand communicative production, both written and audiovisual, related to International Relations.

2.1    To provide students with basic strategies to deal with academic and specialized reading.

2.2    To jointly explore issues, gather and deploy evidence and data (through sources such as statistics, graphs, tables, etc.) to find, retrieve, select, and exchange new information.

2.3    To provide the opportunities for learners to listen to and understand complex issues through video and audio.

3.  Ability to write complex texts based on International Relations topics and issues.

3.1    To plan, document, design, and present independently conceived (original) pieces of writing in International Relations.

3.2    To introduce students to the vocabulary, idioms, discourse markers, and structures related to International Relations.


  1. To be able to speak English with a high degree of excellence (C1.2 - C2.1)

  1. To be able to understand both oral and written English, in communication situations linked to the professional practice of International Relations.


1. Conflict Resolution

1.1 Writing a conflict resolution scenario

1.2 Role playing a conflict resolution scenario

2. Reading text 1: History of Conflict Resolution

3. Writing workshop: Summarizing an interview

3.1 Basic rules of punctuation

3.2 Outlining

3.3 Paraphrasing

4. The Commonwealth Project


Students must carry out a series of tasks related to International Relations which have a specific goal, a particular procedure, and from which an outcome is expected. With some ad hoc variations, each task begins with a pre-task phase in which ideas are activated and input is provided (a, b, d, e, f, i). During the task-cycle, students must work in pairs or small groups in class or outside class (f, g, i). Feedback (in the form of explicit corrections, recasts, elicitations, and other techniques) is provided as students work in small groups. This is followed by a planning stage, which students use to prepare and practice their report, and a report phase, which requires a public oral presentation of the students’ work (h). Each task concludes with a language focus stage in which specific structures and vocabulary are targeted (b, c, i). Part of this phase can be carried out by students outside the class. Mid-term and final exams are administered to measure students’ acquisition of new vocabulary and grammar learned in the task cycle (j, k).

This methodology, therefore, includes activities falling into the following categories:

a. Classroom instruction

b. Individual exercises in class

c. Individual exercises outside of class

d. Reading of texts

e. Viewing of videos

f. Group discussions in class

g. Group work outside of class

h. Presentations in class

i. Participation and interaction in class

j. Preparation of exams

     k. Taking of exams


A.   Written exams

B.   Oral exams

C.   Evaluation of homework and essays

D.   Evaluation of presentations in class

E.   Evaluation of class participation and attitude


Final exam 50%:                 Oral assessment 25%

                                             Language focus exam 25%

                                             Reading comprehension 25%

                                             Listening comprehension 25%



Class work 50%:                 Class oral presentations

                                              Written work, including homework and in-class tests

                                               Listening exercises

                                               Participation in class


Participation in 85% of regular class sessions is a prerequisite for taking the final exam. Those students who fail to meet this criterion have not earned the right to take the end-of-term final exam.

Students must pass at least three of the four parts of the final exam in order to pass the course.

 Those students who fail the course in the first term, or who have not earned the right to take the end-of-term exam, must repeat the same level in the second term.

 At the end of second term, students who take the exam but fail the course have the right to take the July re-sit exam. The final grade for students taking this exam will take into account: the class grade obtained for continuous evaluation (50%) and the grade on the re-sit exam (50%).

 Students who did not earn the right to take the exam at the end of second term cannot take the re-sit exam and must re-register for the same level in the first term of the following academic year.



At the end of English for International Relations II students should have achieved the following objectives.

 Objective 1: Oral competence in English (B, D).

 ·         Students should be able to express themselves fluently, with complex language, and with only occasional communication breakdowns. Students must show that they are aware of and can repair pronunciation errors and that they can quickly find an alternative when they do not know a specific word.

·         Students should show command of complex descriptive and narrative verb tenses, and display few errors. Sentence structure is expected to be complex with only occasional sentence structure errors. In general, students are expected to self-correct immediately after errors in their speech.

·         Students must be able to use complex subordination and other complex ways to connect sentences. They must be able to display lexical alternatives in both task-related and task-unrelated speech, and show mastery of standard collocations and idioms.

·         Students should show their ability to interact and display strategies to overcome occasional communication breakdowns during interaction, as well as show command of typical conversational patterns and short answers.

·         Students should show mastery of task-related, specialized International Relations vocabulary.

·         Students should show familiarity with the complex grammatical structures associated with each task.

·         Students must be able to express complex opinions about the media-related topics presented in class, display argumentation skills, and critical thinking.

 Objective 2: Ability to understand communicative production, both written and audiovisual, related to International Relations (A, C, E).

 ·         Students should be able to abstract complex information from texts which specialize in International Relations.

·         Students must be able to interpret the main ideas in a text and guess complex meanings from context.

·         Students should be able to understand and interpret the information in a news broadcast or documentary.

·         Students should be able to understand high- and medium-frequency words related to International Relations, and show they can guess the meaning of low-frequency words from contextual clues.

 Objective 3: Ability to write complex texts based on International Relations topics (A, B, C, D, E).

 ·         Students must show their ability to communicate through writing in all kinds of professional and academic situations. (e.g. formal essay writing, written reports, formal and informal e-mail  writing, among others)

 ·         Students must be able to demonstrate sophisticated organizational skills when writing, display use of complex connectors, complex structures, formulaic language, as well as idioms and collocations.



Class workbook: Barkham, S.; Gilabert, R.; Otey, C. & Zilles, K. English for International Relations. Level 2. Barcelona, 2015.


Colonna, M.R. & Gilbert, J.E. 2006. Reason to Write: Strategies for Success in Academic Writing, Advanced. New York: OUP

Mann, Malcolm & Taylore-Knowles, Steve.  2008. Destination Grammar C1 & C2: Student's Book with Key. London: Macmillan Education Ltd.


Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Cambridge Dictionary Online

Visuwords web site for word networks web site

Frontline documentaries by PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)

60 Minutes (CBS)

BBC World Service


Russia Today

Der Spiegel (English version)

The Guardian

The New York Times

National Public Radio (NPR)

Movies with themes related to International Relations

Web sites related to International Relations, linguistic aspects, vocabulary, glossaries, etc.

Klaus Zilles  • Catherine Ann Otey